Sinkhole law will hurt residents
The new sinkhole insurance law is a disaster for Pasco County. The increased rates will make it impossible for many people to stay here or move here — especially folks on fixed and limited incomes. This increases the monthly cost of owning a home, making it out of reach for many. The banks will qualify even less people for mortgages due to the higher property insurance rates (along with higher mortgage insurance and flood insurance by the way). These factors increase a buyer's housing expense ratio (monthly housing expenses divided by monthly gross income) knocking them out of the game.
Under the new law, insurance companies will be denying the vast majority of sinkhole claims. If it's not catastrophic or severe structural damage, it's not covered. So what are homeowners to do as they watch their home slowly deteriorate? If they do submit a claim, the home is forever labeled in property records as a sinkhole home and the homeowner now has the obligation to disclose this fact to potential buyers. And, if the home goes unrepaired, it loses more than half its value. So what will a homeowner do if they can't sell it and don't have an extra $100,000 laying around to repair the home themselves? They end up walking away and making it the bank's problem.
Our fragile real estate market and local economy can't handle this additional blow. Think about it — less home buyers, more struggling homeowners forced into foreclosure because of higher costs, more abandoned and damaged properties, further erosion of home values. Aren't legislators biting off their noses to spite their face? Doesn't all this add up to less tax revenues? Who are our legislators representing? Certainly not the Pasco County homeowner.
Lisa Dean, Hudson
Smoker ban is discriminatory
The goal of any organization should be to hire the best workers possible.
Estimates vary but more than a quarter of the adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. The most frequently cited reason for imposing sanctions on smokers is health care cost and the purported impact it has on all of us. But, I am confused by the hypocrisy of it all. The Florida Legislature forces us to wear seat belts ostensibly because it will save lives but also because it will supposedly lower insurance claims. Nonetheless, I can fill the back of my pick-up truck with Little Leaguers or migrant workers without repercussions. At the same time, the state of Florida is suing the federal government for forcing people to buy health insurance. Surely, everyone knows that taking care of the uninsured costs us all.
So, while we are banning smokers from the workplace, perhaps we need to get those chubby folks with the potential for diabetes and heart disease off the payroll too. Better yet, let's get all those macho guys and gals without helmets traversing our highways on Harley's off the payroll also.
Many people who don't smoke make lifestyle decisions that could ultimately impact any organization's insurance rates. One does not have to look very far to find numerous states that have enacted legislation that protects individuals from employment discrimination for legal activities.
I'm all for the smoke-free workplace but let's not put smokers on the unemployment line. It's not that I care that much about smoking.
Rather, I'm fearful I will be denied my chocolate chip cookies and ice cream because I am 54 and developing a paunch and that might lead to obesity, high cholesterol, or some other malady that will be the next target of the do-gooders.
School Board member Cynthia Armstrong — focus, please. Stuff like this is a morale killer and the superintendent has done enough of that already.
Ray Gadd, Land O' Lakes